DUNDAS, James (1721-80), of Dundas, Linlithgow.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 18 June 1721, 1st surv. s. of George Dundas of Dundas, M.P., master of the King’s works in Scotland, by Alison, da. of Brig.-Gen. James Bruce of Kennet. educ. prob. Dalmeny sch. m. 22 Apr. 1748, Jean Maria, da. of William, 14th Lord Forbes [S], 1s. 4da. suc. fa. May 1762.

Offices Held

Capt. Scots brigade in Holland, 1745; capt. 25 Ft. 1747-8; col. 94 Ft. 2 Mar. 1780-d.  Burgess of Edinburgh 3 Oct. 1770.


As a young man James Dundas joined the Scots brigade in Holland, obtaining the captaincy of a new company in Mackay’s Regiment in 1745, but left the Dutch service in 1747 on accepting a captain’s commission in the British army.1 After his marriage and the reduction of his regiment at the end of the war he seems to have abandoned a military career.

When his father succeeded to the Dundas estates his title to the headship of the Dundas family was disputed by Thomas Dundas of Fingask (father of Thomas and Lawrence Dundas), whose claim was rejected by the court of session in 1758.2 When James succeeded as 24th of his line in 1762 his right as ‘the undoubted male representative of this most ancient family’ was apparently not challenged.

In 1768 James contested Linlithgowshire, which his father had represented 1722-7 and 1741-3. Since 1743 the seat had been held by Charles Hope Weir,(brother of John, 2nd Earl of Hopetoun), who in 1768 stood down in favour of his son John Hope. Both sides created new votes which were the subject of litigation in court of session and House of Lords, but Hope was returned by a vote of 20-15. Dundas was seated on petition. He voted with Administration on Brass Crosby’s case, 27 Mar. 1771, but, unlike the rest of the Dundas connexion, was classed as an opponent of Government on the royal marriage bill, March 1772, and voted against them on the Middlesex election, 26 Apr. 1773.

By 1774 Lord Hopetoun had regained control of Linlithgowshire, and Dundas stood no chance there. Supported by Sir Lawrence, he unsuccessfully contested Linlithgow Burghs in opposition to Sir James Cockburn. He brought a petition which was subsequently dropped, and did not re-enter Parliament.

During the invasion alarm of 1779 he raised a regiment, the 94th or Dundas’s Foot, and sailed with his troops when they were ordered to the West Indies in 1780. Arriving in St. Lucia in July in the sickly season, the transports were sent on to Jamaica with many casualties from fever aboard.3 Dundas was among those who died on the voyage, on 20 July 1780.4

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Scots Brigade in Holland (Sc. Hist. Soc.), ii. 230.
  • 2. M. I. Dundas, Dundas of Fingask, 43-49.
  • 3. Fortescue, Hist. British Army, iii. 296, 347.
  • 4. Gent. Mag. 1780, p. 494.